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Mariners Fire Bill Bavasi

Good for them, and this should help, although the Mariners probably really need to replace people higher up than Bavasi. Still, though, Bavasi deserved to be fired. His player personnel decisions (chronicled here) were mostly awful, and he badly misjudged the talent level of his team.

I was talking with a friend this weekend about why it might actually be bad for the Pirates to finish .500 this year. It's weird and counterintuitive to root for the Pirates to lose so that they can win more later, but finishing .500 without first assembling a lasting core can get a team like the Pirates in all kinds of trouble. The 2003 Royals, for example, somehow won 83 games, and they spent the following offseason grabbing aging free agents--Benito Santiago, Tony Graffanino, Matt Stairs, Juan Gonzalez, Rudy Seanez. They didn't trade Carlos Beltran even though he would be a free agent after 2004.

Well, they tanked badly in 2004, got an underwhelming return for Beltran when they traded him at the deadline, and proceeded to lose 100 or more games in three consecutive years. The .500 season, as it turned out, meant nothing, and forgetting for a second Dave Littlefield's typically moronic decision to bail the Royals out of part of Santiago's salary and give them a real prospect in the deal, nothing good came from all those free agent signings. 

The 2007 Mariners are a similar cautionary tale. They surprisingly won 88 games, and in the offseason they made a big trade for Erik Bedard. Since the M's won about ten games more than their hitting and run prevention suggested they should've, I thought that was a terrible idea, and so did most projection systems and Mariners bloggers. It turned out we were right. The Mariners have the worst record in baseball, their offense is in a shambles, and now they're short the four interesting young players and good reliever they traded for Bedard. An 88-win team that was more lucky than good plus a poor general manager proved to be a toxic combination. The Mariners would have been better off if they won 65 games instead of 88 and gotten Bavasi fired before he made the Bedard trade.

What we ultimately need here is for the Pirates to really get better. We've got to root for the young players to improve. We've got to root for prospects in the minors to improve. It's counterintuitive, and it's against everything I stand for as a fan, but focusing too much on day-to-day wins and losses really misses the point right now. Focusing on finishing .500, painful though it might be to have sixteen losing seasons in a row, really really misses the point. And if you miss the point too badly, you're the Royals or the Mariners, and your franchise is in serious trouble.